Google Launches Froogle Shopping Search, China’s Internet Censorship

“Froogle. All the worlds products in one place.”

Without any fanfare, Google launched the ultimate shopping engine this morning at In a nutshell, there is no longer any need to browse the web when you are looking for a specific item to purchase. Just go to Froogle, and you’ll quickly find nearly every item for sale on the web.

Froogle indexes specific products from a multitude of ecommerce sites on the web. The search results include a picture of the item for sale (if available), the price of the item, the store where the item is for sale, the category, and a brief description grabbed from the store’s site.

Yes! you can search by price.

Google says “Froogle ranks store sites based only on their relevance to the search terms you’ve entered. Google does not accept payment for placement within our actual search results, and advertising that appears to the right of Froogle search results is always clearly identified with the label ‘Sponsored Links.'”.

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“So you think you have findability problems…”

Frustrated that it’s not easier for people to find your website? Imagine what it’d be like if people weren’t even allowed to search for you.

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School has posted an analysis of Internet filtering in China. The study includes a form through which you can test to see if your website has been banned for viewing in China.

Go to Real-Time Testing of Internet Filtering in China and type in an address. This form links to a proxy server in China that is allowing for the basic availability query to be made.

If you search for Amnesty International ( or Human Rights Watch (, your query will be “reported as inaccessible in China.” But if you try, you get right through. I am sure it will be comforting for Mr. Martin to know that his zany brand of American comedy is accessible in the Internet cafes of Beijing.

The Harvard study demonstrated that filtering is not static, or driven by wholesale banning of content source IPs. Certain news sites like CNN will be banned at one time and not at another, depending on the content that is on the site at that point in time. The report concludes that “Chinese network filtering is an important instrument of state Internet policy, and one to which significant technical and human resources continue to be devoted.”

For more information:

Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China
Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard Law School

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